State LNP leader Deb Frecklington says if she was Premier she would keep Longreach and Emerald pastoral colleges open by striking a deal with industry.
Agriculture Minister Mark Furner recently announced the colleges would be closed in 2019 as part of a broader shut down of the Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges organisation.
However, Mrs Frecklington said now was not the time to give up on rural communities.
“If I was Premier, I would be doing a deal with industry to keep these agricultural colleges open,” she said.
“The future of the agricultural industry and its contribution to Queensland’s economy relies on skilled employees from ag training colleges.
“That’s now at risk without training for the next generation of Queensland producers.”
Peak industry body AgForce has been pushing hard to save the colleges, demanding the state government “hand back the keys” to industry if they can’t keep them open.
“We believe these are unique, irreplaceable assets and we are currently engaging with organisations and community groups around the state to elicit their support and ideas to save them," AgForce general president Georgie Somerset has said.
"AgForce's plan is to overhaul these institutions and the services they offer to form the backbone of a comprehensive, future-looking rural research and education system that offers benefits beyond agriculture.”
A petition to save to colleges has so far gained more than 10,000 signatures in just under a week.
Western Queensland councils have also moved to fill the agricultural training void left by last week’s announcement, with the possibility of using the Longreach facilities for other training programs.
The Remote Area Planning and Development Board, made up of the seven western Queensland councils, has announced that it is “ready, willing and able” to work proactively with the state government to be part of the solution immediately.